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1987 (12-0-0): Dominance From Start To Finish

The Hurricanes were supposed to be rebuilding. Reloading was more accurate. This Miami team was supposed be the lull before the storm of 1988 and 1989. After all, the Hurricanes had lost five starters on offense from a team that had come within a whisper of a national title in 1985 and a 1986 squad that was considered among the best ever, only to lose its title shot in the Fiesta Bowl.

But this team was more offensively balanced than the previous season’s juggernaut and, with nine starters returning to an underrated defense, the Hurricanes were a more well-rounded team altogether. Ranked 10th in the preseason Associated Press rankings, this team quickly showed it would be better than advertised.

Miami ripped rival Florida in the season opener, then embarrassed Arkansas on the Razorbacks’ home field. The season’s third game was a classic. Being dominated by fourth-ranked Florida State, 19-3, late in the third quarter, Miami launched one of its greatest comebacks. The Hurricanes scored three lightning-quick touchdowns: a 49-yard bomb from Steve Walsh to Melvin Bratton, a 26-yarder from Walsh to Michael Irvin (plus a two-point conversion to tie it at 19), then a 73-yard strike from Walsh to Irvin for the lead with 2:22 remaining to give Miami a lead it would have to stop an FSU two-pointer to hold for a 26-25 victory.

There seemed to be no stopping these Hurricanes after that. Miami rolled through the remainder of the regular season, ripping tenth-ranked Notre Dame (24-0) and surviving a scare from eighth-ranked South Carolina (20-16) to set up a matchup with top-ranked Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl Classic on New Year’s Day.

The Hurricanes bottled up OU’s wishbone attack, holding the Sooners to just 179 yards on the ground (OU came in averaging 428.8). Elation for Miami was frustration for OU – the Sooners only three losses over the last three seasons had come to the Hurricanes.

1987 (12-0-0)
Head Coach: Jimmy Johnson

Date UM Rank Opponent Result Score
Sept. 5 10 (20) Florida W 31-4
Sept. 26 5 at (10) Arkansas W 51-7
Oct. 3 3 at (4) Florida St. W 26-25
Oct. 10 3 Maryland W 46-16
Oct. 24 3 at Cincinnati W 48-10
Oct. 31 3 at East Carolina W 41-3
Nov. 7 3 Miami (Ohio) W 54-3
Nov. 14 3 Virginia Tech W 27-13
Nov. 21 3 Toledo W 24-14
Nov. 28 2 (10) Notre Dame W 24-0
Dec. 5 2 (8) South Carolina W 20-16
Jan. 1 2 *(1) Oklahoma W 20-14

*Orange Bowl Classic, Miami

Starting Lineup

SE – Brian Blades
LT – Matt Patchan
LG – Mike Sullivan
C – Bobby Garcia
RG – Scott Provin
RT – John O’Neill
TE – Charles Henry
FL – Michael Irvin
QB – Steve Walsh
FB – Melvin Bratton
HB – Warren Williams

RE – Bill Hawkins
RT – Greg Mark
LT – Derwin Jones
LE – Daniel Stubbs
WLB – Rod Carter
MLB – George Mira, Jr.
SLB – Randy Shannon
RCB – Tolbert Bain
FS – Bennie Blades
SS – Selwyn Brown
LCB – Bubba McDowell

PK – Greg Cox
P – Jeff Feagles
DS – Willis Peguese
HOL – Jeff Feagles
PR – Cleveland Gary
KOR – Randal Hill, Alex Johnson

Coaching Staff
Head Coach – Jimmy Johnson
Assistant Coaches
Hubbard Alexander, receivers
Joe Brodsky, running backs
Dave Campo, defensive backs
Butch Davis, defensive line
Art Kehoe, offensive line
Don Soldinger, tight ends
Gary Stevens, asst. head coach/offensive coordinator/quarterbacks
Dave Wannstedt, defensive coordinator/linebackers
Tony Wise, offensive line
Steve Hoffman, graduate assistant
Bill Johnson, graduate assistant
Ron Meeks, graduate assistant
Tom Tuberville, graduate assistant
Dan Werner, graduate assistant

1987 Statistical Leaders

Att. Yards Avg. TD LP
Williams 135 673 5.0 5 49
A-C-I Yards Pct. TD LP
Walsh 298-176-7 2249 59.1 19 73
No. Yards Avg. TD LP
Irvin 44 715 16.3 6 73
No. Yards Avg. TD LP
Be. Blades 5 61 12.2 0 26
No. Yards Avg. I20 LG
Feagles 34 1319 38.8 66
No. Yards Avg. TD LP
Perriman 15 97 6.5 0 13
No. Yards Avg. TD LP
Hill 19 497 26.2 0 60
1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ Total
Davis 0-0 6-6 3-5 7-10 1-1 17-22

“If we stick together, we can climb mountains. Any mountain, anywhere.”
– Bennie Blades, safety

“We played our way to this championship. We have the best record versus anybody in the country . . . We beat Oklahoma three in a row, Florida State and Notre Dame three in a row, Florida a couple . . . What is sweetest is that we did it as a team. We lost starters and had other guys come in and played magnificently.”
– Jimmy Johnson, head coach

“You no longer have to stand in anyone’s shadow. Do you hear me? No one’s shadow! No one has done what you’ve done here. No one!”
– Father Leo Armbrust, team chaplain